Best Cheap Eat, Movie, and a little Art too at The Kennedy School
photo by Drew Vigal
A moment’s bike ride from trendy Alberta Street is the McMenamins Kennedy School. It can be found in Beautiful Portland, Oregon; A place where ‘Weird’ is wonderful. In fact the local moto is "Keep Portland Weird" and the creator of the McMenamins empire seems to understand this more than most.
Don’t let the name 'Kennedy School' fool you, school is certainly not in session here. Instead, McMenamins has capitalized on the uniqueness of Portland Oregon and the demand for what I call Portland’s flare for down home folksy-chic. The ingenious McMenamins group renovated several old kitschy buildings, some in the most questionable neighborhoods. Their knack for gentrification and the attention to preservation of local culture seeps through the Americana theme, yet in a decidedly Pacific Northwest style. Kennedy School is the epitome of Pacific Northwest Americana circa late 1900's. Enjoy a comfortable nights stay at the inn and a five star restaurant; or just stop in for the evening. Expect a great night at the movies with popcorn and soda, and a slice of pizza, all for under $20 bucks. Not to mention the art and history you'll find for free!
Walking through the dark wood, stained glass, and mood lit hallways of this thriving Bed & Breakfast you will note the delicious zest of Pacific Northwest cuisine wafting through the air, and if your senses are not deceiving you, the odd feeling of eyes following you. This is because they just might be. Paintings and photos of long gone students from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s are super imposed onto wood, canvas, and ceramic tile. Authoritative and a little frightening, images of the Kennedy School's original instructors and tiled portraits of children playing are there. You may note still footage of a long ago ‘Ring-around-the Maypole’ game in black and white. These all give the impression of past life and current life blending together in hallways of the Kennedy School. Gothic looking gargoyles and shellacked historical documents, now turned artwork, salt and pepper the walls of this once elementary school.
The calendar of event for the Kennedy school host many activities including jazz and blues concerts, classes, or festivals. There is always an event to take part in. One main feature is the once gymnasium, now banquet hall. On either end of the hall, the gymnasium style doors feed directly into the bustling hallways. If you chose to leave an event and explore the halls for a moment, you too can take part in the bizarre meeting of old and new that wanders down these colorful hallways. Maze like entrances and exits jut off to meet unique little rooms, each with its own story to tell. Every nook and cranny at the Kennedy schools seems to have a hidden piece of artwork or historical meaning.
At one end of the school you will find a comfy family style theater serving some of the best pizza pie known to man. Running through the center of the building is a five star restaurant serving up fresh and local favorite’s, all characteristic of the Pacific Northwest. Expect to see reasonably priced grilled salmon steaks and seasonal salads on the menu. A tiled indoor 'soaking pool' is available to the public as well. At another end of the campus a smoky little burrow created just for the cigar and pipe crowd called the ‘Detention Room’ for those naughty ones who choose to indulge.
The Kennedy school is one of several McMenamins establishments and can be booked throughout the year for events or personal vacation and relaxation. Schools may be out, but the Kennedy school is definitely in.
Week One: hmtswk1
The McMenamins Kennedy School